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When Drones Fall From the Sky

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the gods-must-be-crazy dept.

The Military 97

schwit1 sends this report on the perils of imperfect drone technology: "More than 400 large U.S. military drones have crashed in major accidents around the world since 2001, a record of calamity that exposes the potential dangers of throwing open American skies to drone traffic, according to a year-long Washington Post investigation. Since the outbreak of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, military drones have malfunctioned in myriad ways, plummeting from the sky because of mechanical breakdowns, human error, bad weather and other reasons, according to more than 50,000 pages of accident investigation reports and other records obtained by The Post under the Freedom of Information Act.

Commercial drone flights are set to become a widespread reality in the United States, starting next year, under a 2012 law passed by Congress. Drone flights by law enforcement agencies and the military, which already occur on a limited basis, are projected to surge. The documents obtained by The Post detail scores of previously unreported crashes involving remotely controlled aircraft, challenging the federal government’s assurances that drones will be able to fly safely over populated areas and in the same airspace as passenger planes."

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Nonsense. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47288453)

More BS from people against the emerging corporate police state. They are just desperate to go back to the days of freedom and privacy. Those days are OVER and are never coming back.

Lick my balls and call me Sally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47288485)

See! We still have FREEDOM OF SPEECH. I will never be modded down for this post!

Re:Lick my balls and call me Sally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47288729)

the federal, state and local governments within the united states can't mod you down, but everybody else can tell you to go fuck a duck.

Re:Lick my balls and call me Sally! (2)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | about 2 months ago | (#47288947)

the federal, state and local governments within the united states can't mod you down, but everybody else can tell you to go fuck a duck.

A note of caution, do not actually try fucking said duck while under observation by any representative of federal, state or local government... Even if it's obvious the duck REALLY wants it bad...

Re:Lick my balls and call me Sally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47289153)

See! We still have FREEDOM OF SPEECH. I will never be modded down for this post!

Of course you do. They just set the bar where you can be heard above the point you can get to without being modded up. Not censorship at all.

(Gov't vs private sector distinction vanished a long time ago).

Re:Nonsense. (1)

MobSwatter (2884921) | about 2 months ago | (#47289707)

Hiel Hitler! Ironic that Germany has the functioning democracy now days huh?

Necessity of regulation (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47288461)

It is important to regulate drones, not stop them. From what I'm reading drone related problems are being misdiagnosed as an issue with the hardware. It seems obvious that it's more due to the irresponsible nature of how they are deployed.

Drone related problems that are mechanical in nature is related to carelessness of the producers and owners based on the conditions which they are deployed. Without humans aboard, drones are being deployed without thorough safety regulations being enforced since there is no risk of fatality to the passengers. In addition, since we lose drones in areas such as Afghanistan, it seems obvious that since we see them as unfriendly or as enemies, we don't take the safety measures to ensure that the people below aren't at risk of major failures. This is terrible and disgusting behavior. Drones are also deployed under irresonsible flying conditions. Small aircraft with human pilots should never be in the air in these conditions, yet we send drones because there is no one on board.

In short, the issue isn't specifically with drones, it should be identified as issues with the people deploying them. When deploy in them at home, drones should be heavily regulated to ensure responsible deployment and operation.

Re:Necessity of regulation (0)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 months ago | (#47288481)

Yeah, 'cause when only police state approved personnel pilots them it's going to get much safer. After all they are flawless, not prone to human error and have a private agreement with God concerning the weather.

Re:Necessity of regulation (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 months ago | (#47288511)

After all they are flawless, not prone to human error and have a private agreement with God concerning the weather.

Well, they are raised in vats, and specifically bred for blind obedience and ruthlessness, not to mention enhanced human reflexes.

Should be no problem.

Re:Necessity of regulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47288509)

under a 2012 law passed by Obama.

Fixed that

Re:Necessity of regulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47288595)

There are no regulations yet developed for UAV airworthiness. They must be held to the same standards and regulations as other digital fly by wire aircraft. None of htem are currently close. None have real triple redundant computers, etc...

Re:Necessity of regulation (3, Insightful)

Wycliffe (116160) | about 2 months ago | (#47288757)

There are no regulations yet developed for UAV airworthiness. They must be held to the same standards and regulations as other digital fly by wire aircraft. None of htem are currently close. None have real triple redundant computers, etc...

Not the same standard but appropriate standards. Everyone knows a 10 ton airplane crashing into a building is a major safety problem
whether there are passengers or not. A 200 lb aircraft is probably just as much as a problem if it happens to hit a person. On the
other hand if you have a 20 lb aircraft with a safety chute that can be deployed to land gracefully on failure then it's probably ok.
They either need to be designed to not fail (triple redundant, etc) or designed so that when they fail that they are not a hazard to
innocent bystanders.

Re:Necessity of regulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47289041)

We already have those regs. See cirrus. However, you still need all of the rest of the hardware and software to ensure taht the chute works. Drop a 20 lb kettlebell on your foot and hten tell me you think "a safety chute" is okay.

Re:Necessity of regulation (2)

Rei (128717) | about 2 months ago | (#47289445)

Exactly - drone regulations should be for what's the worst case realistic crash scenario. You don't want it breaking a windshield or sending a kid to the hospital, so you can come up with some reasonable impact force / deceleration regulations. And it doesn't even mean that a safety chute is fundamentally required; most people mistakenly believe that helicopters that lose power plummet to the ground, but actually, the rotors autorotate (they're rotary wings, after all), and can (depending on the hardware) even potentially have a safe controlled landing on autorotation. You could also require minimum noise and lighting, at least while the craft is below a certain altitude, and require that they be either passive or on an independent power system.

There's one safety problem, though, that you have to be sure to address... free spinning rotors can be a serious safety hazard. Just from randomly ending up on RC forums I've ran into a number of posts of people who've injured themselves, sometimes rather seriously, on their RC craft's blades. Cowlings could help somewhat, but I don't know if that'd be enough (they're also extra weight and rob some energy). Still, I think it should be totally possible to engineer passively safe, yet still useful, drones.

Re:Necessity of regulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47292103)

but actually, the rotors autorotate (they're rotary wings, after all)

Wings, rotating or otherwise, need to be moving through the air to provide lift.

or... (1)

formfeed (703859) | about 2 months ago | (#47290405)

They either need to be designed to not fail (triple redundant, etc) or designed so that when they fail that they are not a hazard to innocent bystanders.

Or when they fail, they could access a map of insurgents living close by.

Drone engine failure, crashing in 2 minutes, list of possible crash sites:
playground: -100
unoccupied garage of elderly lady: 0
vegetable garden: -10
guy who posted anti-NSA stuff on slashdot: +20

Re:Necessity of regulation (1)

HiThere (15173) | about 2 months ago | (#47289553)

Maybe it should fragment into chaff in case of failure. That would ensure light construction.

Re:Necessity of regulation (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 2 months ago | (#47292585)

Oh blow some more smoke up my ass with these naive "safety measures", "regulating drones", "areas such as Afganistan." Drones are used today, in areas such as US of A, against citizens who have been declared witches.

By the way next time you feel there is a worm chewing your brain, don't hit the hospital ER, cuz they'll laugh you in the face and tell you to lay off the crack, cuz you're hallucinating. You go there more than once, they take you to the nuthouse and, like good samaritans, help you out by holding you down and shooting you up with Haldol. Good luck keeping a job when you're on Haldol, your hands refuse to follow instructions on it. In fact the worm in your head is a remote cancer-treating-gamma-knife-like x-ray, but because it's coming from a drone up high, it's low powered, and takes friggin forever to cause a boiling hole inside your head, and then when you feel it, all you have to do is move your head faster than the automatic tracker can follow it, or move it back and forth to create an oscillation in the tracker, hopefully resonance, and wear the motor out, at least lower its accuracy from a distance. The real reason why they want regulations public, because they do these things mostly under the cover of darkness at night, and if you work a nightshift job, there is not enough darkness time to remotely lobotomize you enough from a drone, when you're sleeping in a cast iron tub and the high powered appliance x-rays of your neighbors are shielded out, and they have to come at you from above. So under "open regulations" people spotting these things during broad daylight during "routine surveillance operations" is gonna be OK. By the way your brain can be lobotomized quite a bit, if it happens little bit at a time, it will adapt, as shown by surgeries of children with seizures lasting 10 hrs out of 24 in a day, who, after removing the left side, or right side of their brain completely, still function fine. Also people with hydrocephalus - huge water filled holes in their brains expanding their skull to humongous size, and leaving only a micron thin sheath of brain tissue next to the skull - function like other normal people, and show up at the hospitals for a CT scan complaining of "minor headaches." Of course you're not gonna get the real CT scan images, that'd be too scary, there are a bunch of standard files on the computer to show people, some faking a broken arm, so they get a broken arm bone x-ray image, and a cast, with the "manufacturer assuming the warranty repair" on the bone (i.e. the Lord Almighty.) It's the real world, if you see a drone in the sky, so what, if you got holes in your brain, got gassed with anesthetics, infected with all kinds of genetically engineered and trackable things - all to erode your ethics, your humanity - just piss on it and get on with your life and try to make the best of it, enjoy it anyway. Life is like playing cards, sometimes luck in the cards dealt to you is cruel, and you have to play a shitty hand. So what.

And by the way, speaking of CT scans looking at the holes in your brain created by remote gamma knives operating from drones, what's with this naiveness about unlimited coverage requirement in Obamacare? You know what automatically happens? Doctors know the money is coming, so they'll hold the patient forever. It's like free money falling out of the sky, the insurance companies can't resist, and exercise checks and balances, but that does not matter for now, lets get everyone aboard of having mandatory insurance first, then we'll jack up the price to 90% of your income, of course you only have to pay the 10%, and Obamacare will fund the 80% from your taxes. The only proper insurance premium to infinite coverage is infinite premium. Or it's a lie. As in, back in the 90's there were these dialup ISP's who said for $99 you can have free internet for the rest of your life, but they were outcompeted by the ones like juno or netzero who did not even ask for $99 but just gave you free internet if you were willing to watch an ad on your computer, for which there was a hack to hide it (or even have multiple virtual displays, some of your applications like winamp and excel and the netzero ad being on one desktop, and internet explorer and word on another,) so anyway, these isp's asking for $99 then infinite internet forever are lies, as, unlike the advertising netzero, they have no sustainable model, and the whole point is to start up this pyramid-scheme temporary company, pay the CEO a million dollar salary from these one time fees as a business expense, take up all kinds of business loans to keep paying the CEO his salary, then when the company is hopelessly in debt, let it go bankrupt into the oblivion and out of existence, then start up a new one, and repeat. Same deal with insurance companies selling unlimited coverage for a limited fee - I can tell you this, there is a limit, but arguing with doctors why they want to extract $440,000 per patient per hospital visit is difficult, because they think it's fair - start up the insurance company, pay yourself a huge salary, go bankrupt, out of existence, then repeat, start a new insurance company, take the Obamacare premiums, pay yourself a shitload of salary, then go bankrupt again, repeat. It's all fuckin bullshit. Does Obamacare now regulate the salaries of insurance company CEO's too? Or tells them they are not allowed to go out of business? What happens to all the premiums you paid when you get sick and the company is just freshly going out of business, 2 weeks into your 9 month hospital stay? Who's gonna keep paying the hospital bills? Or are they gonna have the FDIC picking up the bill when the FDIC insured insurance companies fail? You might as well just say that the government pays for everybody's health care anyway, if they have to keep picking up the bill every time the insurance companies run away from it.

Re:Necessity of regulation (1)

RespekMyAthorati (798091) | about 2 months ago | (#47301147)

Oh billy, aren't you silly?

Just once (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47288469)

It just needs to kill someone once for the tide to be reversed. Hopefully it doesn't come to that. Will being injured be enough to outlaw them though?

Re:Just once (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 months ago | (#47288489)

Oh I'm pretty sure at least in one of those "accidents" someone got injured or even died. It needs to kill someone who counts. Like, say, a politician. Or, god forbid, someone owning one. THEN, and only then, you'll see the discussion. Else it's just a "tragic mishap that is an unfortunate side effect in our strife against international terrorism", or similar bull.

Re:Just once (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47288887)

This. I don't wish harm to anybody, nor do I wish increased drone flights anywhere, including over my own country. However, if one of these things should happen to go down and cause a major problem, we should be prepared to seize the moment the same way the neocons did after 9/11: this stuff could be set back decades as a result.

Re:Just once (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47288493)

It just needs to kill someone once for the tide to be reversed. Hopefully it doesn't come to that. Will being injured be enough to outlaw them though?

The police are likely going to use drones to injure and kill, so...

Re:Just once (1)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 months ago | (#47288797)

that doesn't count though

Papers please ... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47288471)

Drone flights by law enforcement agencies and the military, which already occur on a limited basis, are projected to surge.

Papers please, comrade.

Congratulations, America, you have created Big Brother.

Assholes.

So some military drones have crashed (2)

SpankiMonki (3493987) | about 2 months ago | (#47288551)

Big deal. I'm sure the ones soon to be used by businesses and local law enforcement will be much more safe & reliable, because they will be produced in a competitive market environment (instead of by government contract) by 3D printers.

Re:So some military drones have crashed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47288791)

It is a big deal. There have been over 400 large military plane crashes in the last decade with zero loss of life!

400 out of how many flights? (3, Insightful)

GodInHell (258915) | about 2 months ago | (#47289369)

Good point. Also - without knowing how many flights? There are hundreds of thousands of car crashes every year - but there are millions upon millions of miles traveled by car every year, so crashes are relatively rare. If there were 1000 drone flights and 400 crashes the article would have a point, but there were probable hundreds of thousands of military drone flights in the last 10 years.

Also, Military aircraft do tend to crash very often around the world. see Wikipedia List of accidents and incidents involving military aircraft (2010–present) [wikipedia.org] . Note the string of fatalities caused by those crashes.

Re:400 out of how many flights? (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about 2 months ago | (#47291319)

So fine. Let's all play the new MMO, DRONE, what will make it even more fun are all those real world consequences, just likes 'CARS', come join in the carnage, people dying, people suffering permanent disability and property damage on a new scale. No longer will just a few isolated homes be subject to random damage as associated with 'CARS', now no home, apartment or even high rise will be safe.

Lag, has new meaning where in flight at critical times, failure can mean death, for real. Signal interference, lighting, excess signal traffic and, overloaded airspace, all combine to make 'DRONE' the fun new MMO. Not to forget the criminal element and straight up idiots, all combining to bring the great fun of 'CARS' to a new environment, with 'DRONE' no back yard is safe, no front yard, nor the bit inbetween where the targets sit waiting for their 'DRONE' visit.

The more you have, the more accidents you will have and the more likely they will be banned. The purpose of drone is to bring flight more cheaply into the commercial environment due to not having to support a pilot, in terms of mass and of course safety requirements. With cheap being the focus of drone development, expensive will be the consequences.

In many sensible countries, remote control aircraft are banned from general airspace and restricted to specific model aircraft flying zones. Swopping magpies https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com] are bad enough without adding in some idiots drones to the mix.

Re:So some military drones have crashed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47289145)

Ahahaha :D You deserve more mod points ^^

Very funny (1)

formfeed (703859) | about 2 months ago | (#47290435)

Big deal. I'm sure the ones soon to be used by businesses and local law enforcement will be much more safe & reliable, because they will be produced in a competitive market environment (instead of by government contract) by 3D printers.

Oh gosh, it took me a second to detect the sarcasm in that statement. At first I thought, "no way - local law enforcement and safe. - LAPD drones???" But then there was that bold marker for pure sarcasm: competitive market environment hehehehe

Re:So some military drones have crashed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47290489)

400 in the last 13 years - let's look at the safety record of other groundbreaking war-machine technology during its first 13 years and compare...

more people were injured by collateral damage (1)

NemoinSpace (1118137) | about 2 months ago | (#47288581)

A 50,000 page report packs a whallop. Whether it is read or not. Keep these people away from hadoop, they might crash the cluster.
I feel a little embarrassed by being shocked by this. Did anyone else have a wtf moment? Or should i go back to my lawn chair?

When the drones fall from the sky... (2)

MindPrison (864299) | about 2 months ago | (#47288587)

...THEY'RE MINE!

Those drones cost a lot more than my cheap vanilla toy drones from the local hobby store, so if they dare enter MY territory, and they fall down on my property - they become MY property! Bring'em on!

Re:When the drones fall from the sky... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47289183)

Those drones cost a lot more than my cheap vanilla toy drones from the local hobby store, so if they dare enter MY territory, and they fall down on my property - they become MY property! Bring'em on!

You raise an interesting point. Who owns a 787 that crash lands on your property? What if it's a coastal town's... coast? Can you claim marine salvage rights to it by being the first/last person on the then emptied vessel?

Back on topic, why not ask for rules under which we, as private citizens, are allowed to film, say, a police officer's funeral or parade march? I don't particularly care if we have harsh laws, as long as they are reciprocal and symmetrical. The problem with power is when it is one sided.

Re:When the drones fall from the sky... (1)

Deadstick (535032) | about 2 months ago | (#47289313)

That vibration you feel is your lawyer trembling with anticipation of a paycheck.

Terminology? (5, Interesting)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about 2 months ago | (#47288601)

The problem I have with 'drone' is there isn't a clear definition of what a 'drone' is.

A thousand-kilogram General Atomics MQ-1 Predator raining freedom (via Hellfire missiles) down upon terrorists is a 'drone' as is one-kilo quadcopter taking webcam pictures of some housing development.

Back in my day, the former was a 'drone' and the latter was a 'remote controlled plane.'

Re:Terminology? (1)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 months ago | (#47288675)

The latter is still really a remote-controlled plane. I think the "maker culture" people have taken to using grandiose names in order to make it look like they have more advanced tech than they do. "I 3d-printed a remote-control plane" doesn't have the same ring to it as "I 3d-printed a drone".

Re:Terminology? (1)

Rei (128717) | about 2 months ago | (#47289481)

I'd say that the latter deserves the term "drone" more, and the former deserves the term "remote controlled airplane". Drone, to me, invokes "flying craft that does some mindless task repetitively, largely on its own, typically involving both free flight between locations and hover or slow movements at the destination.". "Remote controlled airplane" invokes... well, first, *airplane* (which a quadcopter is not), and beyond that, "with continual operation by an operator, with continuous motion (no hovering)"

Re:Terminology? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 months ago | (#47289719)

I'd say that the latter deserves the term "drone" more, and the former deserves the term "remote controlled airplane".

they're both drones. the predator can accomplish some mission objectives autonomously.

Re:Terminology? (1)

ScentCone (795499) | about 2 months ago | (#47290921)

they're both drones. the predator can accomplish some mission objectives autonomously

As can cheap retail multi-rotors. Complex ground-side mission planning and completely autonomous flights from take to landing.

They're all drones, and no matter what we all think, that's the media term now and there's no escape. So, we just need to run with it.

Re:Terminology? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 2 months ago | (#47291853)

The latter is still really a remote-controlled plane. I think the "maker culture" people have taken to using grandiose names in order to make it look like they have more advanced tech than they do. "I 3d-printed a remote-control plane" doesn't have the same ring to it as "I 3d-printed a drone".

The problem is, the drones that are available to the military are widely varied - from 1-2 lb tiny surveillance ones that are tossed like a paper plane (and they go smaller, too, think toy helicopter, but they're packed full of tech and can cost upwards of $10,000 each), to 18 lb ones with launchers to your predators on upwards. To hundred pound beats, etc.

Add in your quadrotors and really, if you give a weight range, there's a drone in inventory or a defense company has it in their catalog.

There's a drone for every purpose and desire in the military.

Re:Terminology? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47288685)

which one can't kill you if it crashes into you? If it can kill you if it hits you, then it should be regulated by the FAA. A fastball to the head can kill you. That's where the standard should be.

Re:Terminology? (2)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 2 months ago | (#47288903)

A fastball to the head can kill you. That's where the standard should be.

So you want the FAA to take over the MLB?

Cessna vs. Airbus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47288911)

[...] A thousand-kilogram General Atomics MQ-1 Predator raining freedom (via Hellfire missiles) down upon terrorists is a 'drone' as is one-kilo quadcopter taking webcam pictures of some housing development.

Back in my day, the former was a 'drone' and the latter was a 'remote controlled plane.'

A 504 kg Cessna 150 is an "airplane" and a 402,000 kg Airbus A380 is an "airplane".

The general working definition I'm going with: an "RC device" needs constant operator input to keep it under control A "drone" has some element of intelligence/computation that allows autonomous operation: auto-hover (countering wind drift), GPS waypoints, return-to-home, etc. The more fully automated a device is the more it can be considered "100% drone", and the less automated the more "100% RC", with gradations of automation to ease control.

Even airplanes now are getting drone-ish, with auto-pilots and auto-landing (ILS Cat II+). Just like cars are getting "self-drive-ish", with auto-braking and lane changing detection, without being fully autonomous.

Certainly not black/white but a few shades of grey between "RC" and "drone".

Re:Cessna vs. Airbus (1)

sabri (584428) | about 2 months ago | (#47289457)

A 504 kg Cessna 150 is an "airplane" and a 402,000 kg Airbus A380 is an "airplane".

An apple is fruit, but fruit is not an apple.

An Airbus is a jetliner, a Cessna 150 is not.

Re:Terminology? (1)

westlake (615356) | about 2 months ago | (#47289157)

Back in my day, the former was a 'drone' and the latter was a 'remote controlled plane.'

Back in day, the R/C plane was a flyweight model aircraft, with very little range or endurance in the air, flown over open ground and only within direct line-of-sight of the operator.

Re:Terminology? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47289735)

Your quadrocopter is a "rc plane" if you fly it using remote control all the way.

It is a "drone" if it is capable of flying a mission on its own. Even if the "mission" merely is go up, fly half a km using gps, take pictures of housing development, fly back and land. Quite a few homebuilt quadrocopters have such capability. They need a microcontroller anyway for stability - gps-guided flight is then the easier part to program.

Radio Interference, Insurance, and Other Issues (4, Interesting)

NatZi (119253) | about 2 months ago | (#47288613)

While drone activists and commercial drone aircraft operators/manufacturers have tried to downplay the numerous problems with drone aircraft use, the facts remain:
--most of today's drone aircraft are hobbyist-grade devices without significant, controlled testing;
--major issues remain unresolved (and will worsen if usage increases) related to radio interference;
--many "hobbist" drones use crowded, common radio spectrum for control (some drones are semi-autonomous or may have basic loss-of-signal processors but again these are largely untested in controlled envionments);
--it is unclear whether insurers (especially in commercial uses as an insurer defines commercial) will cover the damages from drone aircraft, damages which can be significant including death or property destruction (fires from overheated motors hot enough to melt solder, etc.);
--with no licensing or registration of drones, it is hard to hold the drone aircraft operator accountable when problems that arise (after all, it's your kid who lost an eye from a drone strike over a playground but hey, the drone operator got away the police say); and
--the willful violation of the long-standing R/C model aircraft guidelines places R/C model aircraft operator privileges in jeopardy (which is a shame because these hobbyists have decades of responsible operation AWAY from populated areas, AWAY from noise sensitive areas, and AWAY from other aircraft).

This does not even account for the numerous privacy issues which are equally pressing.

Thus, looking at the issues posed by drone aircraft (and especially for commercial uses) and failure of the drone aircraft industry / drone aircraft activists) to take a meaningful lead on these issues, fair and practical regulations of drones are needed from both the FAA and the FCC such as testing of drone aircraft and components, radio spectrum limits, licensing of pilots, required training, mandatory liability coverage, drone aircraft inspections and certifications, and drone aircraft registration. No one says drones cannot be operated at all; but if operated, people need adequate protections and assurances just as with any other aircraft. That is common sense.

Re:Radio Interference, Insurance, and Other Issues (1)

PPH (736903) | about 2 months ago | (#47288745)

most of today's drone aircraft are hobbyist-grade devices without significant, controlled testing;

Right. But thisis due in large part to the FAA's regulations against commercial use. So there is no money in drone development, safety testing and certification, allocation of dedicated control frequencies, etc. If you want drone manufacturers to make the sorts of investments in technology, there will have to be demand that goes beyond the hobby budget user base.

Perhaps it would have been better to allow some commercial uses in non-controlled airspaces in rural areas. For applications like utility corridor inspection, search and rescue, or agriculture [yamaha-motor.com.au] .

The licensing issue is valid. But this could also be addressed with a program of limited, licensed comercial drone operation vs hobby flying. Legitimate businesses will be willing to train and license drone pilots if there is money to be made which offsets those costs.

Re:Radio Interference, Insurance, and Other Issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47289209)

If you want drone manufacturers to make the sorts of investments in technology, there will have to be demand that goes beyond the hobby budget user base.

I don't think any long time posters are arguing for that.

The licensing issue is valid. But this could also be addressed with a program of limited, licensed comercial drone operation vs hobby flying. Legitimate businesses will be willing to train and license drone pilots if there is money to be made which offsets those costs.

Agreed, but the commercial users should be paying for licenses for:
1) Insurance of at least the highest state minimum for auto or aviation
2) licensed spectrum: not the unlicensed non-commercial spectrum - otherwise click click on the linear amp walkie talkie=drone skeet shooting.
3) To set up all the regulations and courts to handle the inevitable cases ahead of time. Prison construction costs too, for the inevitable "accident" which kills someone.

On arguments against #4, the USPS has to pay 75 years of pensions up front, why not make every other business do that sort of thing too? :p

Re:Radio Interference, Insurance, and Other Issues (2)

Virtucon (127420) | about 2 months ago | (#47289037)

Back in the CB Radio [wikipedia.org] days we had linear amplifiers. Of course amps weren't "legal" but then I guess having a 50 foot tower with a Moonraker 4 [palcoelectronics.com] wasn't too kosher either. I had a 2KW boomer in my truck and it could make fluorescent lights at gas stations light up. I think for these little pests it's time to dig out the old Cobra Base Station, the D104 and the old boomer with the appropriate dead load and make a few gnats fall out of the skies. 10-4 good buddy.

Re:Radio Interference, Insurance, and Other Issues (2)

Deadstick (535032) | about 2 months ago | (#47289349)

Ummm, you're aware you're talking about a 27MHz SSB-AM system interfering with a 2.4 GHz spread-spectrum PCM system, right?

Re:Radio Interference, Insurance, and Other Issues (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 2 months ago | (#47289849)

Dude, this was in the 70s fuck the 2.4Ghz spectrum, bleeding all over all frequencies was awesome.

Re:Radio Interference, Insurance, and Other Issues (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 2 months ago | (#47290543)

You do realize that the newer systems simply autoland when they lose control, and that new thing with GPS will simply move to dead hover until the RF interference passes.

Meanwhile, as you obliterate parts of the cellband nearby, the FCC is going to be pretty highly motivated to find you.

Re:Radio Interference, Insurance, and Other Issues (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 2 months ago | (#47291513)

Sophisticated ones yes, probably do that. The run of the mill annoy everybody buzz whigmagig will fall like a dove during hunting season. If you pump enough RF power at something it'll loose control signal or fry, it's easy enough to do just like peeps in a microwave.

Also, this was the 70s and despite what we think about the FCC they're not the brightest bunch out there. You can still buy linear amps for Ham Radio configuration it's just that the guy selling them doesn't know if it's going on a Ham or CB set.

Re:Radio Interference, Insurance, and Other Issues (1)

Nethead (1563) | about 2 months ago | (#47292019)

Yeah, we had a yahoo like that drive by our computer shop each day. Would crash all the systems including the phones. Until one of our service techs, Ken, 6'10, 350 lbs caught the yahoo at the stop light and yanked that lin-e-ar right out of his pick-um-up truck, put it under his tire and said, "drive." Last problem we had with said yahoo.

Oh, and the FCC doesn't really like them yahoos either, and will fine the fuck out of them, given the chance.

73s, good buddy.

Re:Radio Interference, Insurance, and Other Issues (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 2 months ago | (#47292993)

I'm surprised your guy didn't ask him if he Yahooed?

Re:Radio Interference, Insurance, and Other Issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47290507)

When pigs fly... it has happened. Now, anybody can fly a pig, and look at the potential mess that will be, ban them, confiscate them and convert them to bacon.

Target Practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47288615)

If the state of some roadside signs (some look like Swiss Cheese) in the US is anything to go by, Once more Drones start appearing in the sky, they will simply be shot at.

and when a drones crashes into an airplane (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 months ago | (#47288617)

and when a drones crashes into an airplane the FAA will come down so hard and then the airlines will sue all party's who owned and controlled that drone and if they any thing left other people hurt / killed in the crash will have people sue as well.

Re:and when a drones crashes into an airplane (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47289233)

and when a drones crashes into an airplane the FAA will come down so hard and then the airlines will sue all party's who owned and controlled that drone and if they any thing left other people hurt / killed in the crash will have people sue as well.

I'll be sure to make sure to leave my actual name and address on the drone then, and stick around if I'm liable for 5 to 500 deaths. I certainly won't have a fridge magnet I can easily remove from the hull just prior to launch, in case I'm searched ahead of time by the many, many thousands of FAA inspectors wandering the nation's airports, surrounding hills, meadows and urban blocks. No sir, I definitely would not do that to evade a virtual death sentence (aka bankruptcy, poverty and debtor's prison (fail to pay contempt fines = go to jail)).

I would absolutely, positively, never think to put someone else's name on an RC plane registration card and marking before strafing the local sheriff's department or parade. Absolutely I would not do that.

Dark Angel's hover drones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47288623)

At the rate we are going, we are right on target for Dark Angel's hover drones to be science fiction become real (and in the correct year).

Future (1)

Urkki (668283) | about 2 months ago | (#47288649)

This story proves how "Skynet" is wise to wait until there are enough robust robotic vehicles to take out all humans, before taking over the world. Another prerequisite is sufficiently autonomous repair systems for energy production etc. So I think the humans still have a few decades to enjoy life, before the inevitable robot apocalypse, and being strafed by military aerial drones, crushed by their own Google cars, electrocuted by their own Google glasses with neural interface, and strangled by their own Google neckties.

Re:Future (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 months ago | (#47289737)

This story proves how "Skynet" is wise to wait until there are enough robust robotic vehicles to take out all humans, before taking over the world. Another prerequisite is sufficiently autonomous repair systems for energy production etc.

Skynet needs not just self-repair, but also construction automation (grinding up rubble and building walls, fully automated mining, etc) as well as fully automated design, ostensibly with genetic algorithms. Without all that it can't maintain a supply line for its extremely complicated equipment, and will break down or run out in short order. Can't exterminate all the humans while it still needs 'em. I mean, us.

shot down (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47288673)

Can add "shot down" to that list once they carry packages to customers. I think at best drones would be used for a customer needing an item ASAP and pay a high price to be delivered by drone. I can't imagine a way it would be cost effective to deliver low profit items.

Re:shot down (1)

Deadstick (535032) | about 2 months ago | (#47289361)

Gimme a break. That "package delivery" shtik was a Christmas-shopping publicity stunt. If you really believed it was going to happen, you'd be investing in pediatric and veterinary hospitals.

Re:shot down (1)

HiThere (15173) | about 2 months ago | (#47289575)

Well, there's been at least one report of illegal drugs being smuggled across the border by drone. Don't know if they caught anything but the drone, though.

Re:shot down (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 2 months ago | (#47290549)

Given that the cartels build submarines for this, the thing I'm surprised is that there's never been "drug smuggling by ballistic rocket".

Life on the line (1)

Nkwe (604125) | about 2 months ago | (#47288687)

One of the things that keeps traditional aircraft pretty safe is that the pilot is inside the plane and is highly motivated not to crash. Perhaps to keep drones safe as well, we should keep the risk with the pilot -- if you crash a drone, the penalty is the same as if you were inside the plane you were remotely piloting (penalty up to and including death).

The range of penalties would of course need to be scaled to the size of the drone -- a toy quad-copter is not the same as a Predator, but the point is the legal infrastructure needs to ensure responsibility for those piloting drones. Note that I emphasized the pilot. The pilot needs to be on the hook, not the company employing the pilot, the manufacturer of the drone, or anyone else.

Re:Life on the line (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47288767)

The other factor is pilot training. No matter how well motivated a pilot may be, untrained operators will be hard-pressed to avoid a high accident rate.

Re:Life on the line (2)

Wycliffe (116160) | about 2 months ago | (#47288785)

Perhaps to keep drones safe as well, we should keep the risk with the pilot -- if you crash a drone, the penalty is the same as if you were inside the plane you were remotely piloting (penalty up to and including death).

The pilot needs to be on the hook, not the company employing the pilot, the manufacturer of the drone, or anyone else.

Yeah, that'll work for about a year until amazon runs out of minimum wage employees to pilot their drones because they've all been sentenced to death.

Re: Life on the line (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47289013)

So they sub out the work or even move it overseas and get out having to pay out when something goes wrong and what if the controller is some one working for min wage or some 1099 who does not have anything? They better pay at least 30 hr w2 full time to take on that kind of risk

Re:Life on the line (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47289761)

Not a problem. When you drive, you are responsible for what you do with the car. So you're motivated to not run over people - even if doing so won't damage you or the car much.

Similiarly with drones. If you send a drone on a photo/transport mission, you are responsible for the result. You may or may not add safety devices like a parachute. You may or may not do maintenance. You may or may not route around populated areas.

But when the thing fall from the sky, you're responsible for whatever damage the thing does. So good routing, parachutes and maintenance is in your interest. If you have the money to buy a drone, or the skills to make one from parts, chances are you have enough to loose in a lawsuit too.

Yea Right... (1)

Darkling-MHCN (222524) | about 2 months ago | (#47288705)

"a record of calamity that exposes the potential dangers of throwing open American skies to drone traffic,"

And not a calamity in other countries?

Re:Yea Right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47288943)

...and the use of the word 'calamity'. What is this, the 1800's? Have you ever used 'calamity' in a conversation with someone?

Re:Yea Right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47289409)

...and the use of the word 'calamity'. What is this, the 1800's? Have you ever used 'calamity' in a conversation with someone?

As a software developer coding to hopefully minimize risk, I use this word quite often to describe what could happen under adverse conditions at runtime.

Loaded Article Title (1)

Jim Sadler (3430529) | about 2 months ago | (#47288709)

Weapons of war are not operated nor expected to have the same safety features as drones for civilian uses. There is also no mention of the size or weight of drones that have crashed. Many of these four hundred might have been a few ounces and fallen at very low speeds or fallen while being under heavy fire. I'll bet that in the US people flying hobby drones inside their homes have suffered some minor injuries as it is a common hobby. But is there even a single incident within the US of any drone of size causing injury to a human being by "falling out of the sky"? There has been a commercial drone making deliveries from the US into Mexico that has been in operation for some time. We also fail to note that drones save lives. Drones have prevented our war fighters from suffering wounds or death in numerous cases. Drones are being used to locate lost children and hikers and to spot poachers and thieves. Drones are also being used to inspect bridges and places that are risky for humans to reach. I would rather a twenty pound drone working for the local news channel crash than a six thousand pound copter with a pilot and newsman crash doing the same task. And as far as urban and suburban crime detection and prevention we may live in a far nicer world when drones can record numerous events. And the guy that causes that wreck in his car may well want to think really hard before telling lies on the witness stand. He might turn that greedy law suit into a twenty year prison sentence for perjury.

Re:Loaded Article Title (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47288889)

I'd bet a military drone is inspected with less care than a piloted fighter plane is and the systems are not usually designed for the extensive wear from the start to cut costs. Also, a cargo drone should be classified differently from an observation drone, with different mechanical and behavioral requirements just like a truck is compared to a personal vehicle.

Re:Loaded Article Title (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 2 months ago | (#47288931)

Drones for Military purposes = good Drones flying over my house because of some nosy fucking neighbor or the local police are sniffing around for something going on = bad.

There's very few vestiges of privacy anymore and all these fucking drones overhead are another way to fuck with you.

Storm chaser drones (1)

stkpogo (799773) | about 2 months ago | (#47288809)

I just want to see a video from a drone that got too close to a tornado.

Sure if they can fly drones around (2)

Virtucon (127420) | about 2 months ago | (#47288921)

I can go buy that old Soviet era S-75 system [wikipedia.org] and put it in my front yard. The only question is can I attach it to my garden hose? Wait, I wonder if I have to get my HOA to approve that first?

Rate changed? (1)

MikeMo (521697) | about 2 months ago | (#47288981)

I wonder if the rate of crashes has changed since 2001. I'll betcha the technology and pilot skills have increased significantly since then. For sure, there are different models of UAVs flying now than there were in 2001.

Am I missing something? (3, Insightful)

clovis (4684) | about 2 months ago | (#47289123)

I read the article, and I don't see any mention of how many drones were shot down or hit by gunfire. I don't know for sure, but I bet the drones in Afghanistan get shot at a lot, and I admit that will continue to be a problem in the United States.

The article says the US military has about 10,000 drones and 400 from 2001 through 2013 means about 40 or less a year are lost. And that's while being shot at. What would be the failure rate of a Lexus if they were shot at every day while driving around?

It said about a quarter of these are lost in the USA, but it doesn't mention if these are lost in product testing or training - situations known to cause high losses.

Re:Am I missing something? (1)

dunkindave (1801608) | about 2 months ago | (#47289505)

"Since the outbreak of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, military drones have malfunctioned in myriad ways, plummeting from the sky because of mechanical breakdowns, human error, bad weather and other reasons"

Adding the non-descript "and other reasons" means they have covered their based, but somehow I doubt that mechanical breakdowns, human error, and bad weather account for the causes of most military drone failures in an active combat zone. This is a variant of the age old "statistics don't lie, but liars use statistics", since they gave a highly suggestive list of causes to make the reader think they are the major causes, then add the generic "and other" so they aren't lying. But then again I haven't seen the actual statistics - maybe being constantly shot at and jammed are really minor causes of failure in a war zone (and maybe pigs fly too in a war zone).

Re:Am I missing something? (1)

avgapon (1851536) | about 2 months ago | (#47289595)

I don't think that they get shot down a lot.

Re:Am I missing something? (3, Funny)

not5150 (732114) | about 2 months ago | (#47289897)

"What would be the failure rate of a Lexus if they were shot at every day while driving around?" - We could probably ask the people in Detroit.

Re:Am I missing something? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47290917)

Oh come on, that would never happen in Detroit. Only the finest AMERICAN automobiles are driving around and being shot at here.

Re:Am I missing something? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47289933)

Many drones operate at 10.000 - 30.000 feet, nobody is shooting at them.

Re:Am I missing something? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 2 months ago | (#47290861)

Your missing the emerging press spin of the wealth of production, wealth of working with new crews, wealth of keeping the systems flying, upgrades. Diverse sales to cities, states and federal agencies. The rush from prototypes to profitable production line sales. A lot of political and private sector interests in seeing drones flying and been worked on as an ongoing pubic/private boondoggle.
Deep in local or tech news you can find 'events'
How a Large U.S. Navy UAV Crashed in Maryland, From 18,000 Feet (Jan. 7, 2013)
http://www.defensenews.com/art... [defensenews.com]
https://publicintelligence.net... [publicintelligence.net]
If a drone was lost in war, the classic propaganda value is often balanced by a hidden sale at a great price to other interested groups.
The main problem for the US is the rush from prototypes to front line units without the budget/time/skill/support that a vast new bespoke project like that needs.
The US took a camera platform and packed in many other mil related systems. Then went big and small at a constant low price in a short time demanding ever more tasks and roles.
The other aspect is the way the US mil saw encryption and how to protect it while saving limited power per drone - just dont use it. Nothing is lost in a crash and more needed systems can get what per drone encryption would have taken. Effortless ready to go realtime communications and data networks for drones without the costs of losing, buying or supporting heavy per drone encryption.
Great for moving prototypes to global front lines fast but long term it gets much more interesting.

Re:Am I missing something? (1)

strikethree (811449) | about 2 months ago | (#47293263)

I am unsure if you have ever seen footage from a military drone in Afghanistan. I have, and I can guarantee you that there is zero chance of a bullet being fired at one and it getting hit. The missiles and such are fired from a mile or more away usually. The targets have absolutely no idea at all what is about to hit them. One second, the target is driving around thinking about how to murder people in the next village and the next second, they are pieces of meat. Occasionally, a missile will not hit close enough and the target can try to escape, but they have absolutely no idea which direction is safe to move as they have no idea where the original explosion came from. The second missile ALWAYS gets them.

You are NOT going to be hitting military drones with gunfire. Perhaps law enforcement drones will be different, but in theory, they will only have cameras on them so they have even less need to get close... and a mile away is NOT close.

my quads weigh less then a pound (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47289827)

My homebuilt quadcopter weighs in at 2.1 lbs I decided to take advantage of the AMA liability insurance. $45/year to belong and get the insurance is worth it to me. I would never fly my quad over a crowd. .. or anyone's property. I fly in my yard.. I have just about an acre and my neighbors are not right next door.... there is 3,000ft distance from my property to them. no house directly across from mine. I also have the ok to fly in a local high school baseball and football field when it's not in use and no one is at the school. mostly early in the morning or 1hr before dusk. I obey the FAA flight ceiling and have my flight controllers set to a ceiling of 4000ft. With the AMA membership you have access to all the approved modeling fields in the USA. There are some snobs that only allow sailplanes or fixed wing. but most allow anything. including rockets. I am into quadcopters, tricopters, and rocket powered gliders.
There are a lot of "yahoos" that are ruining the hobby for us. #1 idiots who fly an aircraft that utilizes 2.4Ghz spread spectrum for control and they enable wifi on a gopro to get a video downlink and then go for a max altitude or higher. that is just asking for trouble. especially if you are depending on automated RTL. automated RTL will fail if there is strong radio interference with certain radios. What is needed is a heartbeat between the radio control and the aircraft. if the heartbeat is missed twice in a 20 second interval then drop to RTL.

A drone can run out of battery, fuel, break a prop, jammed by radio interference... the list goes on.

The Jetsons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47289889)

A while back I heard an answer to the important question: why don't have flying cars yet? The answer was, if you put 1,000,000 commuting over a major city each day, even 99% less accidents than ground vehicles...

Prediction: eventually a drone and a large passenger plane will collide. The what?

You can go back to screeching now.

Rain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47290555)

Rain

Drone fall from sky.

Hit Obama, as he butt fucks 1 year old child in rose garden.

Obama bloody mess, No more president.

Good for all.

"when drones fall from the sky" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47291437)

and?

You want it bad you get it bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47292931)

I have significant experience working with military drones/UAVs. UAVs do not come close to the systems engineering rigor that is applied to manned aircraft. The most prevalent unmanned aircraft family out there, the General Atomics MQ-1/MQ-9 Predator/Reaper started life as a JCTD (tech demo) that were rushed to the battlefield. As a tech demo they are fine, but as a fielded system they are only "good enough" if you have active combat ops, which we did at the time. The smaller UAs are worse. When I asked questions about containment, that is to say how we keep this thing from flying away to east bejeezus if it loses link, the answer is "the autopilot has a multi-layered lost-link protocol bla bla bla" which of course begs the follow-on question "what happens if the autopilot fails or malfunctions?" to which the answer was usually a blank stare.

Unfortunately at the highest level a lot of Generals and Admirals have drank the marketing cool-aid from the UAV makers. Drones are cheaper, faster, easier because we don't have to put a man in it. There are appropriate applications for drones, but the real reason they are faster, cheaper, easier is because they are crappier and smaller and has nothing to do with manned vs unmanned. If you are OK crashing a bunch, then that might be a reasonable trade-off, but don't fool yourself. A Reaper is cheaper than an F-15/16/18 because it is a less capable and less safe aircraft, not because it is unmanned. It is more expensive than a comparable manned aircraft (combat Supertucano or similar single engine turboprop).

I'm not anti-UAV per se, but people are making entirely the wrong arguments to support them. UAVs of similar capability will almost certainly be MORE expensive than comparable manned aircraft to develop, build, field and operate. UAVs are ideal for aircraft too small for human operators, or with performance (endurance) which exceeds human operators, or for missions where you don't mind if it doesn't come back.

FAA minimums (1)

CHIT2ME (2667601) | about 2 months ago | (#47294991)

I claim the airspace over my property up to the FAA minimums, which is just about out of range of my 12 gage. Anything lower than the minimum altitude is nothing but a target. A 12 gage using #4 heavy field shot will bring down one of those quad copters just fine. Bring on the targets idiots!!!
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